THE BLOG
05/15/2014 05:24 EDT | Updated 07/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Potty Training: Design Tips for Choosing Toilets

Although the finished product may appear almost the same, there are many reasons to consider going with a one-piece or two-piece toilet: A two piece model connects a separate tank and base/seat, which are bolted together on site, while a one piece toilet includes everything already attached seamlessly.

Interior by TIDG

Try as you might to hide it, that toilet always peeks it's head out -- why not make it beautiful?

When moving into a fixer-upper, or renovating your existing digs, there are things about the home you'll likely want to keep -- say, the vintage, worn in mouldings -- and things you'll be happy to part with, like the old, worn in toilet. Here's my guide to picking the ultimate brand-new fixture you can call only your own.

1. One Piece or Two?

- Although the finished product may appear almost the same, there are many reasons to consider going with a one-piece or two-piece toilet: A two piece model connects a separate tank and base/seat, which are bolted together on site, while a one piece toilet includes everything already attached seamlessly.

-Two piece toilets are usually less expensive, often more traditional, and can be easier for a DIYer to lift into place. However, they leave more opportunities for leaks over time, and the seam area can be harder to clean. A one piece toilet avoids these issues and results in a more modern, streamlined shape, but often with a higher price tag.

2. Shape Your Space

-Toilets come in many varieties, but the overall seat shape tends toward two basic styles: round or elongated. Elongated seats are more extended ovals, about 2" longer than rounder options. Elongated options work well for most adults, with rounder options good for very tight spaces, children or smaller homeowners.

-The standard seat height for a toilet (14"-15") is lower than a chair for a reason: this puts the body in a better position than a full-height seat would. However, "comfort height" or "right height" toilets (16"-19") are good options for those who have more trouble sitting or standing up, such as the elderly, or the very tall.

Veil Toilet by Kohler

3. Hidden Components

-The trapways, the snake-like winding tubes in the base which carry the water away, are an essential if not particularly stylish part of each toilet. These can be exposed (usually at least partially integrated into the solid toilet base), concealed (fully hidden for an easier to clean surface) or skirted (with the smoothest exterior plane that is usually easiest to wipe down).

-For the most minimal look with the fewest pieces to clean, the entire toilet tank can be hidden in the wall (like the Veil by Kohler), so the whole piece becomes less of a focal point. You'll have to check with your contractor or designer to see if the wall cavity contains enough empty space; if not, a wall-hung toilet can create a similar effect, exposing more of a beautiful tile treatment by floating off the floor.

4. Rough Treatments

-Besides coming in multiple shapes and styles, toilets also come in more than one "rough in" size; this is an important measuring issue for the physical installation (often prepared before all the pretty details are in place) - essentially it is the distance between the outlet pipe and the wall behind the toilet. When measuring a toilet already in place, use the bolt cap as a reference and measure to the wall - not the baseboard.

-The standard sizes are 10", 12", or 14" -- make sure to confirm your sizing before ordering, and speak with your contractor or designer about whether your installation has any other hidden requirements based on the plumbing system available (such as the need for a power-assist flush).

5. Colour Considerations

-Once you've sorted out the basic requirements, you get to make the fun aesthetic choices, including one many people forget: colour! Coloured fixtures are a returning trend, as they can be a great way to add personality and some fun to a space -- especially in a powder room or guest bathroom that doesn't get used every day. If you're worried about changing colour trends, choose a favourite blue - this timeless hue won't date like a trendy red or orange.

-Even if you prefer to stay neutral in the colour debate, there a many options to consider. Pure whites will look the cleanest, but can appear almost too stark in a warmer, traditional space, where a slight off-white may coordinate better. Grey fixtures will remain neutral and timeless while picking up graining in popular stone tiles and counters, while black gives a masculine appeal while blending into deep, spa-like materials such as slate.

6. Mix or Match?

-Although the traditional look is the full white-on-white-on-white trio of toilet, sink, and tub, it is possible to coordinate fixtures in different finishes -- you just have to make sure they relate to other items in the space. For example, in my own bathroom renovation, I had my vanity cabinet painted a pure black to match my new black toilet, rather than restricting my options to what was already in the space. You could also pick up a fun finish in small accessories, a countertop, or an accent tile, to keep the look consistent but interesting.

-If you do want to stick to a strictly matching suite, make sure the subtle hues of each fixture are as identical as possible, and that they compliment the other materials in the space. Ultimately it's wise to hold samples of your other finishes next to the toilet you're considering (or a finish sample provided by the manufacturer) to make sure none of these components will throw each other off, ensuring your toilet is not merely functional but also a beautiful piece of a complete dream scheme!

Interior by TIDG

For more toilet tips, see my segment on the subject on City's Cityline:

http://www.citytv.com/toronto/?video=3568745794001